Sunday, September 5, 2010

Sanitation Sunday - Handwashing Rap Video Is No Laughing Matter

As I looked around for something related to sanitation and hygiene to post this Sunday, I stumbled across this little gem of a video (below) at Marathon Pundit. Seems hospital medical staff at Milton Keynes Hospital in England need a bad rap song to learn the proper technique for handwashing. Sounds silly, right? Actually, not. The video's message is no laughing matter. In fact, it's deadly serious. Remember that handwashing is still our first line of defense in disease control and prevention of infections. There is a real problem with staff infections being passed on by doctors and nurses in hospitals everywhere, not just in the UK. Staff infections kill tens of thousands of patients in U.S. hospital every year, and much of that is caused by improper handwashing by hospital staff. MSNBC reported on this last year. "Doctors, nurses and other hospital staffer too busy, too distracted — or, sometimes, too arrogant — to wash up are the target of a growing movement aimed at cutting rates of hospital-acquired infections that kill nearly 100,000 people in the U.S. each year, according to federal estimates." Watch the video over there, then come back here and we'll continue... When I worked for the Accreditation Council for Graduate Medical Education (ACGME) in Chicago a few years ago, improper handwashing was a hot topic among hospitals nationwide. It still is today. Dirty hands, of course, have been known to be a major source of pathogen redistribution since the late 1800's. In 2010, it is still all too common. Example: A doctor or nurse who just washed their hands then handles his/her cell phone, thus reintroducing germs to their hands, which can then be passed on to other things - or other people. Don't discredit the valid message just because the messengers can't rap well. An even bigger threat than improper handwashing confronts health care patients in the UK every day. Ironically, it is the National Healthcare System (NHS), of which Milton Keynes is a part. The NHS is over 60 years old, and is essentially what "Obamacare" will look like in a few years. Waiting lines, understaffed hospitals, antiquated equipment, and unequal distribution of services has killed many British patients. Watch an excellent video report here. The College of Physicians and Surgeons of Ontario (Canada) noted the widespread threat of infections spread to patients by improperly cleaned hands in a 2009 article. "Health-care associated infections affect hundreds of millions of patients worldwide every year,"they wrote. "As an unintended result of seeking care, these infections lead to more serious illness, prolonged hospital stays, and induce long-term disability. Not only do they inflict unexpected high costs on patients and their families, they also lead to a massive additional financial burden on the health-care system and — last but not least — contribute to unnecessary patient deaths." RELATED: Performance Improvement In Internal Medicine Residency Education: Memorial Hospital of Rhode Island Curriculum - Anna Ocasiones Troncales, MD, Susan Potter, RN, MA, Eleanor M. Summerhill, MD - Medicine & Health/Rhode Island, Volume 92, No. 8, August 2009 Handwashing Practices for the Prevention of Nosocomial Infections Annals of Internal Medicine Hand Hygiene - FAQs - Infection Control in Dental Settings Infection Control Program State of New Jersey Dept. of Military and Veterans Affairs The dirty truth about docs who don't wash MSNBC